If you want to talk Syracuse University traditions, look no further than Kristen Unangst ’18. During her time in the ’Cuse, Unangst found many a golden opportunity to showcase her Orange spirit:
- Suiting up as Otto the Orange
- Serving as a member of the Traditions Commission
- Leading campus tours as a University 100 student ambassador
“There are so many opportunities to get involved in so many different types of things,” Unangst says. “You can push yourself to figure out what interests you. That was huge for me.”
When Unangst arrived in Syracuse from the Lansdale, Pennsylvania, area, she brought her enthusiasm for school spirit with her from high school, where she played sports, participated in community service, gave tours, was a school ambassador, and shined academically. While she initially wondered whether she would limit her focus on campus activities, she soon learned that she could extend her interests across a variety of realms.
A graduate of the Whitman School of Management, she was a Whitman Leadership Scholar who majored in supply chain management and finance with a minor in global political economy. She was involved in student leadership activities and enjoyed the problem-solving challenges that finance poses; she participated in the Renée Crown University Honors Program and did her capstone project on the fair trade industry; she spent a semester abroad in Hong Kong and did a full-time internship there; she mentored young girls at a Syracuse middle school and volunteered as a tutor at a local Boys & Girls Club. She also landed a summer 2017 internship with Eaton, a leading diversified global power management company, which led to her first job after graduation.
Today, Unangst works in Cleveland, Ohio, as a financial analyst in Eaton’s Financial Leadership Development Program, a select three-year finance and accounting program that rotates participants to different locations each year, introducing them to various aspects of the business. “Syracuse really encouraged me to be more of a learner and to be curious,” she says. “I had so much fun because I realized I didn’t have to just learn about things I was good at. I could learn about things I wasn’t necessarily good at yet, things I’m really interested in, or that I don’t know a lot about.”
Naturally, Unangst had no trouble encouraging others to fire up their Orange spirit. When she learned about Otto auditions in the fall semester of her first year, she thought being one of the country’s most recognized college mascots sounded “amazing and crazy,” but balked at the opportunity. When she heard again about tryouts that spring, she figured why not—and became part of a distinguished group of students who take on the role of Otto. “I really do love traditions and school spirit—which drew me to Syracuse—so I was like, let’s see what happens,” she says. “Ultimately, it was amazing. It completely transformed my school experience.” She enjoyed being part of the Syracuse spirit team, building friendships with teammates, and representing Syracuse at games and community events. “You’re a whole ’nother being, and it’s cool to be that character and have a lot of fun,” she says. “For sure, it was an interesting way to represent Syracuse.”
Likewise, as a student ambassador for the admissions office and a member of the Traditions Commission, she loved being involved in activities that centered on extolling the Syracuse experience. She thrived on helping plan such events as Orange Central , Winter Carnival, and National Orange Day . “It was fun to be able to celebrate Syracuse in a bunch of different ways,” she says.
And when it came time to leading prospective students and their families on campus tours, Unangst looked forward to the interactions, from one student quizzing her about Halloween celebrations on campus to fielding questions from a 4-year-old brother or 80-year-old grandmother. “I loved just basically talking about Syracuse,” she says. “Hearing people’s stories and being asked questions that I’d never thought about, or thought about all the time and totally related to, was definitely a satisfying experience.”
I don’t think I left anything behind at Syracuse. Everything I wanted to do, I did, which is a great feeling.
Unangst also found great satisfaction in exploring Hong Kong through Syracuse Abroad . “I wanted to go somewhere that I’d maybe never have the opportunity to go again,” she says. “Hong Kong was so metropolitan—lots of interesting things were going on, and I loved that I could intern there as well.” Her internship with TransPerfect, a global translation company, also introduced her to the idea of working abroad, an option she wasn’t sure she’d consider before. “After that, I was like, oh, yeah, I could definitely work abroad if I get the opportunity,” she says. “It was important to me to figure out if that was a path I could ever take.”
Looking back, Unangst is thrilled at all the opportunities she had at Syracuse and encourages other students to explore and find classes, organizations, and activities that are the right fit. Ever the lover of traditions, for a University 100 video shoot, she even got to climb the Crouse tower in her final days on campus and see the chimes in action—a tribute to all those moments on campus when she’d hear songs ringing from the tower and think about the grand history of those clanging bells. “I don’t think I left anything behind at Syracuse,” she says. “Everything I wanted to do, I did, which is a great feeling. I was given a lot of opportunities from the school and friends and mentors who pushed me to do things I didn’t even know I wanted to do until I did them. You have the opportunity to do so much that you don’t ever want to leave with too many would have, should have, could haves.”